The Tasting Panel magazine

October 2018

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Page 87 of 96

october 2018  /  the tasting panel  /  87 I f good times come to those who wait, it seems that time has indeed arrived for fans of flavorful red wines, thanks to the diverse profiles being made with Zinfandel. The legendary red grape, which originally put California on the world wine map before Prohibition, arrived in Sonoma County in the 1850s. It miraculously reappeared in pink form in the 1970s before being rediscovered by a new breed of winemakers a decade later. In August, ambitious bottlings made with this world-class grape were celebrated at Zinfandel: Stories from Sonoma County, an innovative regional event organized by the Zinfandel Advocates & Producers (ZAP) at Cline Cellars in Sonoma. In addition to providing an opportunity to taste new releases from the well-respected 2015, 2016, and 2017 vintages, this year's spir- ited event was fueled by the inclusion of a wide range of emerging styles. More approachable, fruit-forward, and food-friendly than the powerful, jammy, Port-like renditions popular 15 years ago, these provocative wines capture the real personality of the vineyards while keeping their alcohol level and oak influence in check. For example, while serving the new release of the Dry Creek Vineyard's 2015 Old Vine Zinfandel from Dry Creek Valley ($35), winemaker Tim Bell said he aspired to make "a more voluptuous style that's very user-friendly." Other great values in the ripe and spicy cat- egory included the Kunde 2016 Estate from Sonoma Valley ($22); the Miro 2015 Gaddis Vineyard Old Vines ($26); the Pedroncelli 2016 Mother Clone ($19); the Armida 2016 Poizin ($25); and the Angry Bunch 2015 ($25). Past the consistently reliable gems from Ridge, Ravenswood, Seghesio, and other long-time favorites, this year's event also featured some refresh- ing debuts: the BACA 2016 Tug O'War Zinfandel, crafted by next-gen trailblaz- ers Jennifer Brown and Alison Frichtl Hollister; ex-Turley winemaker Ehren Jordan's return with Day Zinfandel; and the first ZAP showing of the Seawolf Zinfandel, made by husband- and-wife team Jesse Hall and Emma Kudritzki Hall. There were also plenty of flavorful "field-blend" renderings from Russian River Valley, including the genuine gnarly-vine flavors of the Limerick Lane 2016 1910 Block ($56); the spicy and robust Martinelli 2016 Giuseppe & Luisa ($58); and three special vineyard designates from Mike Officer and the team at Carlisle Winery ($47 each). In hindsight, it seemed rather fitting that this was the last major ZAP event California wine legend Kent Rosenblum, one of the organization's founding members, attended before he died in early September. After all, this is the same county where Rosenblum and his wife Kathy purchased their family's first vineyard in 1980, but it's also where he and winemaking partner Jeff Cohn helped lead the modern California Zinfandel movement with a series of award-winning releases. I couldn't help but notice the big smile on Rosenblum's face when he poured the new 2016 Alegria Vineyard Zinfandel, which his daughter Shauna Rosenblum made for the family's Alameda-based brand, Rock Wall Wine Company. It was a passing of the baton to the next generation made all the more poignant considering everything he did for the grape throughout his storied career. ON THE VINE : A Well-Earned Renaissance ZINFANDEL ADVOCATES CELEBRATE THE PROLIFIC GRAPE IN SONOMA COUNTY by Christopher Sawyer / photos by Kim Sayre The new 2015 release of the Angry Bunch Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel is a joint project of winemaker Tom Hinde and Palm Bay Imports. Dave Keough of Cline Cellars is ready and waiting to serve the next sip of Cline Zinfandel.

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